Letter to the Editor: What About Property Rights?

By and


If it were up to Jared Johnson (“Free Speech Needed Everywhere”, April 17), neither The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nor any public citizens would enjoy any private property rights. By his argument, anyone would be able to say anything he or she wants at any time, whether he or she is on private property or not, and whether what he or she says is offensive to the owners of that property or not. By his argument, people would be able to walk right into his own apartment and insult him to their hearts’ content.

I doubt Jared would tolerate such behavior on his private property. I can’t see why he expects the LDS Church to tolerate it on its.

The real problem here is the assumption most people have that any right “guaranteed” by the Constitution is absolute. This is demonstrably false. The Second Amendment, for example, guarantees the right to bear arms. Yet we still have gun control laws.

The First Amendment guarantees the right to worship freely. But if that right were absolute, the whole Main Street Plaza issue would be a non-issue, because the LDS Church wouldn’t be here. It would still be in Missouri (or Illinois, or Ohio…well, you get the idea).

Yes, we all have the right to free speech. But we also have the responsibility to use that right within the bounds of the law and of common sense. And common sense dictates that people-and churches-should have some say over what happens on their own properties.

Michael Scott Martin

Senior, Chemistry Education